October 31, 2011

Because of the Canned Pumpkin Shortage, I Stocked Up


Update: Dick's Market (Bountiful, Centerville), Bowman's (Kaysville), and Macey's in Utah are having a sale Wednesday November 2 on 29 oz Western Family canned pumpkin for $1.50 each. An awesome price! The manager said they do not carry the 15 oz. size.

The neighborhood trick-or-treaters are scurrying about, so I'm trying to finish this post between doorbell rings. Because of this year's pumpkin shortage caused by heavy spring rains and more rain from Hurricane Irene, I just stocked up on a 24 ct. case of 15-oz Kroger canned pumpkin at Smith's (Kroger) on sale for $1.19 a can (29 oz. was $2.19). You don't have to buy a case to get the price, but I just happened upon the aisle where a store manager was stocking shelves today, which didn't even have the prices listed, but he said I could take the case.


Best Food Storage to Buy in November 2011



November is a great time to stock up on holiday baking items. They are at your fingertips in the stores, but make sure you buy them on sale. I usually stock up on a year's supply of these items, but of course you can stock up on less. And wait until December to buy vegetable oils because I've seen the lowest prices then. The suggested list below will help you keep various staples in stock in your food storage.


October 29, 2011

Missionary Christmas Care Package With Scriptures


Time to prepare a Christmas package for my missionary son in Sweden so it will arrive before Christmas. My sister already sent her missionary son's package to Brazil two weeks ago, because of the poor mail service. With that in mind I need to prepare carefully so it arrives on time, as he also celebrates his birthday in December.

My three sons have served missions in Mongolia, Bolivia and now Sweden. My third son was just transferred to LuleĆ„ where he will have little daylight this winter! But he looks at it as an adventure and he will be able to see the Northern Lights.

File:Northern Lights 02.jpg


I am wrapping each gift and attaching a scripture that he needs to look up before he opens each gift. I sent a similar Christmas package to my son who went to Bolivia, but I am revising the gifts based on the needs of my Swedish missionary. This idea would also work for those in the military.

Here is what I did:

  • Decide on the gifts first. Get ideas at the links below.
  • Think of light-weight items to help with shipping costs.
  • Search for a correlating scripture using this online Search The Scriptures link. That part was fun! You get pretty creative.
  • Remove all cardboard and plastic wrap that you really don't need to help reduce weight for shipping.
  • Buy several small 25 cent Christmas bags from Walmart or Walgreens. They look like lunch sacks. They make excellant wrapping paper for small gifts. After you fold them shut, cut off excess paper to reduce the weight of the gift.



  • Write all scripture references on mailing labels and stick to each present before you close the gift.
  • Attach a mini bow. Pack of 10 at Walmart for $1.00. Mom's are pretty amazing at how much they can fit in mailing boxes. :)
  • I keep my packed boxes under 4 lbs. because our mission is able to forward them to him if they are light.


CHRISTMAS CARE PACKAGE:



Matthew 18:11 "And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: 
yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind"


Knome Picture book (small album with pictures of family/friends holding a knome) 
D&C 100:1 "Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again 
with warm hearts and friendly hands."



Snowman Soup with printable poem (great website!)
3 Nephi 18:9 "And it came to pass that they did so, 
and did drink of it and were filled"
"Divine Redeemer" print by Simon Dewey
Mosiah 27:36 "they were instruments in the hands of God 
in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth"
Temple recommend holder
2 Nephi 5:16 "And I, Nephi, did build a temple"
Piano sheet music
Deuteronomy 31:19 "Now therefore write ye this song for you"
Chocolate Chip muffin/pancake mix
Exodus 29:2 "And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened"
Electric Toothbrush
Proverbs 30:14 "There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords"
Hand and Toe Warmers
Luke 24:40 "And when he had thus spoken, 
he shewed them his hands and his feet."
Post-it Notes
Isaiah 30:8 "write it before them in a table, 
and note it in a book"

Money Origami from Around the World (for Pday)
D&C 133:37 "And this gospel shall be preached unto every nation, 
and kindred, and tongue, and people."
Swedish Fish (of course!)
Matt 4:19 "And he saith unto them, 
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"
Foam Nativity kit 
Matthew 2:2 "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? 
for we have seen his star in the east, 
and are come to worship him."
Snickerdoodles cookie mix
Genesis 21:6 "God hath made me to laugh, 
so that all that hear will laugh with me."
Apple Cider
Proverbs 7:2 "Keep my commandments, and live; 
and my law as the apple of thine eye."
"This is the Christ" CD
D&25:12 "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart"

Note: added these items, so they are not on the printable list. 
The extra tie is for his companion, 
and he has been given instructions to share anything else.

Necktie
Job 39:19 "hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?"
BYU beanie hat
Daniel 3:21 "Then these men were bound in their coats, 
their hosen, and their hats"
Printable Missionary Care Package List.pdf of gifts with scriptures 

Other Gift Ideas:
See this BYU Women's Conference link for ideas.
And LDSMissionaryMoms for more ideas.

Hope you have a great time putting together your missionary package!

October 25, 2011

Homemade Halloween Wreath


I just had to add a few more things to our Halloween door wreath after I spotted these cute felt owl stickers



at Michael's for $2.99. (Should have used a coupon!)

The little plastic pumpkins have been in our family for years. After removing the handles, I attached them with a glue gun. You can usually find them at the dollar store.



The "Happy Halloween" stickers were left over from another project. Now the wreath is complete!

October 24, 2011

Food Storage: One Bite At A Time


Let's start at the very beginning with food storage. Many of you become overwhelmed with food storage because you want to eat the whole elephant. However, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So start small, be smart and pace yourself

If my family started all over again, this is what I would do:

  1. WATER: Begin with stocking up on a 14 day supply of drinking water. You can add more later.
  2. 72-HOUR-KIT:  Also, put together a 72-hour kit for each member of the family, and a binder or small safe to store emergency documents in case you need to evacuate.
  3. START AN EMERGENCY FUND by putting aside a little money each week. It doesn't have to be large. Try $2.00 per person or some other amount you could afford.
  4. GATHER a 3-Month Supply of Shelf-Stable Foods You Eat - create some menus of shelf-stable foods you can incorporate into your diet. This supply will help you if you were unemployed, had a longer-than-72-hour-disaster, etc. A portion of your supply could include a 2-week to 1-month supply of easy to prepare foods you can heat up easily without electricity. But these foods could also be items you regularly cook with. Don't get hung up on perfection. I know I talk about menus, but in a disaster I would eat a can of soup and some crackers for a meal. However, if my husband were unemployed we would eat lots of cold cereal and cook more from scratch, but still be able to buy milk.
  5. MAKE AN INVENTORY of what you have on hand. Perhaps count a portion of your stock pile every week like I do. You shop every week at the grocery store anyway, so you probably look at your food storage or other supplies regularly. Decide how much of each item to store. I want 30 boxes of cereal and you might want 6 because you live in a one-bedroom apartment. That's great! We are each keeping food storage. If you can't figure out how much, use the 3-month Food Storage Plan as a starting place. Or my monthly shopping lists on the right sidebar of my blog. You will be amazed at what you can do, and already have. As you put aside food in your 3-month supply, don't eat it all up in three months. Buy 1 can to eat now, and put aside 2 cans for later. Move items that won't fit in your kitchen to another cupboard or closet or basement. Eventually you will build a supply. It's like taking a few steps forward and one step back. You are still moving forward!
  6. GATHER LONG-TERM FOODS (20 to 30 year shelf life) - After you've done all the things above, work on this supply. Once or twice a year buy and can/bucket these items in bulk. I don't recommend buying them all at once because then they will have the same shelf life. Buy smart. Buy what you can afford and don't go into debt. There are many companies that want you to buy this kind of food all at once. Be careful. Learn to use these foods in your regular diet so it won't be a shock to your system when you do use them. Maybe start with 6 cans of the long-term staples. For some of you, these foods would be what-you-would-eat-if-you-had-nothing-else-to-eat. For us, we would be familiar with most of them because we use them regularly. Just so you know, we are a semi-homemade food storage family. Not a 100% only food storage family. We still eat fresh and frozen foods, but also canned and packaged foods so that our items get used or rotated. 
  7. SEE IT, AND EAT IT: Keep a small supply of each food item in your kitchen, and store a larger supply in your basement, under beds, or in a closet, but not in the garage. The garage is a great place to store paper goods and possibly sugar, but not canned foods as the fluctuating temperatures will  shorten the shelf life of your foods. So be careful. Ask someone in the food industry where they would store food.
Remember, one bite at a time.

Best wishes,
Valerie

October 23, 2011

"Forget Me Not" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Printable Handouts



Today as I listened again to Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk at the General Relief Society meeting, I felt uplifted and energized. There is so much to learn from his wise counsel. I am so grateful there are prophets and apostles of God on the earth today who help us along our journey in life. And grateful that today's technology allows us to listen again. Here are a few quotes from his talk “Forget Me Not.” And if you want to print a beautiful handout, there are several at SugarDoodle.net.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Forget Me Not

First, forget not to be patient with yourself
“God wants to help us to eventually turn all of our weaknesses into strengths, but He knows that this is a long-term goal. He wants us to become perfect, and if we stay on the path of discipleship, one day we will. It’s OK that you’re not quite there yet. Keep working on it, but stop punishing yourself."

Second, forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice
“How can we tell the difference for our own situation? We can ask ourselves, 'Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?' There are so many good things to do, but we can’t do all of them. Our Heavenly Father is most pleased when we sacrifice something good for something far greater with an eternal perspective."

Third, forget not to be happy now
“The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments.

Fourth, forget not the “why” of the gospel
"While understanding the 'what' and the 'how' of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the 'why.' When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet."

Fifth, forget not that the Lord loves you
"Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love."

October 22, 2011

Holiday Christmas Planning Calendar 2011


Another year, another Holiday Christmas Planning Calendar. Every year I revise this based on trips, family events and my calling at church. December is a time to be spent with family, attend school concerts, create memories, and ponder the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I love using this calendar because it helps me pace myself. These tasks or projects are on my Google calendar as an ALL Day event. I repeat them each year. I love that because I don't have to "reinvent the wheel." Feel free to copy, revise and create one of your own.

SEPTEMBER
1st Week
Harvest decor up

2nd Week
Check Temple Square performance dates

3rd Week
Halloween decor/costumes at thrift stores

4th Week
Discuss holiday travel plans with family

OCTOBER
1st Week
Halloween decorating
Buy porch pumpkins 

2nd Week
Make Christmas budget
Start gift lists
Visit Disneyland :)

3rd Week
Online Christmas Shopping
Ghost/Boo neighbors or see Been Booed Letter

4th Week
Christmas lights up (before snows in Utah)
Inspect Christmas decor
Buy Thanksgiving/Christmas decor at thrift/stores
Online Christmas Shopping
Shop holiday clothes (sweaters disappear fast)
Breathe :)

NOVEMBER
1st Week
Halloween decorations down
Thanksgiving decorations up
Mail Missionary gifts
More Christmas shopping
Buy employee gifts
Write Christmas letter

2nd Week
More Christmas shopping
Take kids Christmas shopping
Buy stocking suffers
Make Thanksgiving menu/assignments
Update Christmas card addresses

3rd Week
Finish Christmas shopping
Wrap/Mail relative gifts
Buy Thanksgiving food
Breathe!

4th Week
Set up Christmas tree (before Thanksgiving)
Enjoy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving decor down
Christmas decor up
Visit Lights on Temple Square (Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 dusk)

DECEMBER
1st Week
Watch 1st Presidency Devotional (Dec. 4, 2011 @ 6 p.m.)
Wrap gifts

2nd Week
Make/Give Christmas goodies
Go caroling

3rd Week
Christmas dinner prep
Read Christmas story as a family (Dec. 24)
Enjoy Christmas Day with family!

4th Week
Shop after Christmas sales
Put away Christmas decorations :( (before kids go back to school)
New Year's decor up
Enjoy New Year's Day activities

October 11, 2011

Fall Porch Decorating with Thrift Store Finds


Decorating my porch for fall is one of my favorite things to do. Each year I run to my favorite thrift store here in Utah for decorating treasures. Our Layton Deseret Industries, or what we call the D.I., is so organized. For instance all of the seasonal items are grouped by season, and other items are sorted by color. Love that! I usually go out to "the yard" to glance through the metalwork, wood and floral items.

If you arrive at 9:55 in the morning, you will be greeted by the "regulars," lined up to get in. When the doors open, everyone rushes in for treasures. Or they head straight to the store carts filled with newly donated items to be shelved. We looked like a swarm of bees to honey. Tip: Stay for at least 1 hour, because as soon as items on one cart are shelved or taken, more carts will come out. You have to be quick, yet polite, as you grab items. It's very fun!

This year my porch inspiration came from Tracy's Trinkets and Treasures. I love her site! Look here  for more fall porch pictures. But be careful. You may become a fan. :)

My $40 Fall Porch
First, I painted the various plant stands (D.I. $10.50) with black satin spray paint so they all matched. I found these in "the yard" and I've seen plenty more. These definitely can be reused for other porch decorating. I already had the largest plant stand, but I gave it a fresh coat of paint as well. Then I arranged the pumpkins ($7.00 local farmer's market in Kaysville) and potted plants (Home Depot $18.00) on the porch. The ghost ($0) has been our porch friend for 10+ years. He doesn't light up anymore, but we still like him. I need to find him a friend.


Another great find, was this cute wooden star box (D.I $5.00). I love it because I can reuse it for other holidays. I picked apart the fall florals from an old hanging basket (D.I. $2.00), reused the foam, and arranged them in the star box.

The wreath ($0) was a bit wimpy, so I asked my talented 15 year-old to add some pumpkin garland ($0) and black ribbon ($1.00). I've had the pumpkin wall hanging for a few years.


It's too early to carve pumpkins, so I copied the Boo! pumpkin stencil and drew it free-hand with permanent marker.



I love my porch! I hope you are enjoying yours as well.

October 8, 2011

Easy Small Batch Freezer Jam


(I'm excited to share a post written by my darling married, and expectant daughter, Elisabeth!)

We didn't eat a lot of jam/jelly in my family growing up. At least not that I can remember. I think it was because we were more of a PB&Honey family than PB&J. Us kids were also picky eaters who didn't like the little seeds so often found in jams and jellies :) Plus my sister was allergic to peanuts, so there just wasn't a lot of PB either. At some point I discovered the deliciousness of homemade freezer jam and first attempted to make my own 2 years ago.

After my first attempt I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it could be. I used a no-cook method with Ball brand Instant Flex Batch Pectin.

It is meant for no-cook recipes and small batches (between 2 and 6 half-pints/8 oz containers). I also like it because it means I don't have to buy a Costco-sized carton of berries/fruit to make it. Plus the large batch recipes would be way more jam than Nate & I could eat.

This year I made peach (using 4 peaches), peach-raspberry (2 peaches, 2 small containers of raspberries), and strawberry-raspberry (1 small container of raspberries and 2 cups of strawberries). I prepared and mixed the fruits for the types of jam I wanted and made 3 small (2 jar) batches all at the same time.


Ingredients For 2 half pints of jam:
1 2/3 cups prepared fruit of your choice
2 TBsp pectin
2/3 cup sugar
1 TBsp lemon juice (only needed for peaches)
freezer containers - I used these Ball 8oz. plastic freezer containers


This describes how to prepare different types of fruit.
I smashed my peaches, instead of chopping them.


This shows the amounts needed for every 2 half pints of jam.

Then follow these steps:

1. Prepare fruit -> wash and smash. (Right inside her Pyrex 1-quart measuring cup.)


2. Carefully measure smashed fruit and mix it with the sugar and lemon juice (for peaches). Then let it sit for 10 min. so the sugar can dissolve a bit.



3. Stir in the pectin. Keep stirring for 3 min. This is to make sure it is thoroughly mixed and there aren't lumps of pectin in your jam.

4. Fill jars - Leave 1/2 inch of space between jam and lid so that there is room for the jam to expand in the freezer. Let it stand for 30 minutes before using or freezing.

It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or frozen for up to 1 year.


So DELICIOUS!!! (P.S. Your Dad loves freezer jam and so do I!)

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